The Virginia Horse Council is your voice for the expanding equine industry in the Commonwealth of Virginia. The Council is a not-for-profit organization formed by horsemen for Virginia horsemen. The membership and Board of Directors represent all breeds. The purpose of the Virginia Horse Council is to promote and improve the horse industry in Virginia.
Our mission is to serve as the umbrella organization of the Virginia equine community and to monitor legislative issues affecting horsemen and horses in the Commonwealth. The vision of the Virginia Horse Council (VHC) is to be recognized as a leader in providing broad representation to all facets of the equine industry before the Virginia General Assembly and Congress. The VHC collaborates with other areas of the agricultural community and helps facilitate communications between members of the equine industry and state and federal agencies. The VHC aspires to keeps Virginia horsemen informed of regulations and pending legislation they may impact them, and to provide educational opportunities that further enhance the industry.
Please consider Joining The Virginia Horse Council! Now through December 31, get $5 off of all memberships (excluding Lifetime Membership)!
Join now and get membership benefits for 2020! After we receive your membership application, you will receive a Welcome Packet which will include:
*VHC Scholarship information*
*Info on exciting Member Benefits*
*In-Excess policy (if purchased)*
Business Members are also eligible to have their business listed on our Business Members page! If you purchase a business membership and wish to have your business listed, please send your business name, address, contact info, website link, and logo to Laura
If you would like to have your Business added to the Business Members Links on our Home Page (see below) for an additional fee or listed on our newsletter, please go to This Page and choose an option!
The Virginia Horse Council and EQ-Knowlege Present:
Equine Education for Animal Control Officers and First Responders
The Virginia Horse Council is excited to announce an initiative to address the ongoing problem of the lack of information and education regarding equines in Virginia as pertains to emergencies, neglect and abuse cases, and seizures. To remedy this, we spearheaded a task group of concerned equestrians, including the State Veterinarian’s office, the result of which is “EQ-Knowledge,” who has created a certified course, “Equine Education,” a hands-on based certification course for Animal Control Officers and First Responders. The Commomwealth of Virginia is home to over 180,000 horses, mules, and donkeys. Over 500 were seized or surrendered to Animal Control in 2018, and Large Animal Rescue happens frequently. This 8 hour class provides hands-on horse handling and welfare assessment instruction for ACOs and other First Responders to increase awareness and skill working with these large animals. This course and certification is the first of it’s kind in Virginia and indeed, in the USA.
For and overview of the course, please click this link:
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A YEAR IN REVIEW
A common question posed to members of the Virginia Horse Council (VHC) Board is exactly what does the VHC do? One of the best ways to answer this question is to recap some of the actions/activities of the VHC in the past year.
The VHC kicked off the year by attending the Virginia Agribusiness Banquet and staffing an informational booth at the banquet. With 1000 attendees, from all segments of the agricultural industry, the banquet is an opportunity for the VHC to educate fellow members of the agricultural community sector as to the mission and activities of the council. The VHC was also one of several sponsors of the History of Black horsemen in Racing exhibit organized by James Madison’s Montpelier. The exhibit is a traveling poster exhibition that provides an account of African Americans in racing from groom to trainers to jockeys. It is an examination of African American cultural history in the sport. After the exhibition at Montpelier the exhibit has moved on to the National Sporting Library in Middleburg and will exhibited there through January 26, 2020.
The VHC hosted its annual Youth Recognition Day in February. Each year the VHC invites members of breed and discipline associations to nominate youth representative to attend a day ong session at the Virginia General Assembly, hosted by VHC Board Members. This year’s itinerary included not only meetings with Delegates and Senators but a tour of the Capitol and the Governor’s mansion and a meeting with Mrs. Northam. The tour of the Capitol was conducted by the Sharon Hanger, wife of Senator Emmett Hanger. In addition, the group had an opportunity to meet and interact with both the Commissioner of and the Secretary of Agriculture.
During 2018 the VHC established the Equine Cruelty Working Group. The purpose of the group was to study all aspects of the cruelty issues from causes, equine cruelty law and the administration of the law, law enforcement officer training as well as training for our judicial and members of the general assembly. The Equine Cruelty Working Group has now been renamed the Virginia Equine Taskforce and will be a permanent advisory committee operating under the Virginia Horse Council Foundation. The taskforce is comprised of members of the law enforcement community, rescue groups, a representative from the Virginia Department of Agriculture, Virginia Farm Bureau and the VHC. To date the Taskforce has designed and received certification for a continuing education program for Virginia Animal Control officers. In November the Taskforce held it’s first “hands on” training with 14 animal control officers representing various localities around the state. In addition to the hands on training with horses there were modules presented on body condition scoring, nutrition and general health and wellness of equines. Further trainings will be held at various locations around the state next year.
The VHC is dedicated to quality education for equine owners. Each year the VHC conducts an educational seminar. This year’s seminar was held at the College of Veterinary Medicine at Virginia Tech. The theme for the seminar was equine welfare and wellness. Topics included sessions on Cushing Disease, mud management and for the youth, bandaging techniques as well as the opportunity to make a horseshoe. In addition, the Virginia Equine Taskforce’s training project was debuted.
The VHC continues to monitor legislation at both the federal and state levels to protect the interests of the equine community. The VHC worked in concert with the Virginia Equine Alliance and the Virginia Thoroughbred Association to ensure that flat track racing would return to Virginia.
During 2018 the DCR organized an equine workgroup to develop recommendations for technical assistance, as well as qualifications, specifications, payment caps, etc. for the implementation of manure and horse pasture management as well as general conservation practices within equine operations. As members of this committee the VHC attended numerous meetings to represent equine interests.
In addition to providing youth tracks at our annual education seminars the VHC supports the State 4-H Show both monetarily as well as by providing labor for the show.
During 2017 and 2018 Virginia Horse Council representatives have set on committees that are tasked with overseeing Virginia’s Watershed Implementation Plan III. This initiative revolves around best management conservation practices and reducing the nutrient load being placed on the Chesapeake Bay. Issues such as stream fencing, manure management and stocking rate issues have been discussed at these meetings as well as what steps the equine industry can voluntarily undertake to reduce our footprint within the agricultural sector.
The VHC continues to produce its annual legislative trail ride. Members of the Virginia Assembly and their families are invited to spend a weekend horseback riding and learning about the equine industry in Virginia. This annual event gives the VHC unique access to our Virginia legislators and gives us an opportunity to educate them with respect to the issues, practices with our industry. This historical relationship has enabled us to have a stake in crafting legislation that is beneficial to the industry as well to ensure that legislation is not enacted that can prove injurious to the industry.
The VHC continues to be the advocate for both horses and horsemen within the state of Virginia. Come join us in our important work.